Grant will help those using $1.9 million sewer plant

LISBON – The county has been awarded a $250,000 federal grant to help with construction of the Kensington sewer plant, which means a lower user rate for prospective customers.

Columbiana County Engineer Bert Dawson said they learned their application for the $250,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission had been approved by OMEGA, an organization through which Ohio’s Appalachian counties apply for ARC funding.

It is expected to cost an estimated $1.9 million to build the Kensington sewage plant, and Dawson said the Ohio Public Works Commission has already agreed to loan the county the entire amount if necessary, “but we’re trying to replace that loan money with grants.”

The more grant money, the less the county has to borrow, and a lower loan payment means residents and businesses served by the sewer plant would have to pay less in user fees to retire the construction debt.

County commissioners have also contributed $184,000 to the Kensington project from their annual allocation of federal CDBG grant money, along with $61,000 from the county’s share of state casino tax money. Dawson said the county is also applying for a separate $500,000 federal CDBG grant through the state.

“We’re trying to get as much grant money as we can get,” he said. “We’re looking to get 60-65 percent total grants for the project.”

The county is under an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency mandate to build a sewage plant to address the problem of malfunctioning septic systems in the Kensington area. It is the responsibility of county commissioners because Kensington is unincorporated.

The nearby village of Hanoverton is under a similar mandate, and Dawson said the Kensington treatment plant would be built so it could be expanded to take in Hanoverton’s sewage for a fee, saving the village the larger expense of having to construct its own plant.

Hanoverton is able to apply for a $500,000 CDBG grant of its own to help build the village system needed to transport sewage to the Kensington plant. Dawson said this is an unintended benefit of the county’s decision to abort the original plan to join with the village in building a plant that would serve both communities.

Attending the OMEGA meeting besides Dawson were county commissioners Mike Halleck and Tim Weigle, new county development director Tad Herold and deputy county engineer Troy Graft.

Dawson said he expects construction of the Kensington plant to begin sometime next year. The plant would provide municipal sewage service to about 90 homes.